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What Congress’ No-Fly List Change Could Mean for Travelers If Passed

Since its inception in 1997, the no-fly list has undergone two major legislative changes in the United States. Congress expanded it after the September 11th terrorist attacks and again in 2016. U.S. Senate and House members are finally listening to airline union pleads, proposing new no-fly list legislation for unruly passengers.

Why the Change?

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The no-fly list is an FBI-run database banning what are believed to be high-risk people from traveling by plane. No-fly list individuals often have suspected terrorism ties. There currently isn’t a system to ban travelers from boarding a plane who have been convicted of or fined for unruly flying behaviors.

Terrorists Aren’t the Only Threat

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The move to update the no-fly list stems from airline employees insisting that passengers don’t have to be a terrorist to be dangerous.

Tightening the Rules

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Should the no-fly list legislation pass, it would give the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) the right to act. Any person convicted or fined for assaulting or otherwise hindering airline crew members from doing their jobs would be banned from flying.

Unruly Doesn’t Equate to Terrorist

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Unruly passengers wouldn’t be treated as terrorists under the proposed no-fly list expansion. A separate roster would be kept with the names of passengers convicted or fined for disorderly behavior on planes, banning them from plane travel.

How Many Unruly Passengers Are There?

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In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported 5,981 incidents with unruly passengers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the FAA reported an average of 100 yearly unruly passenger occurrences.

The Pandemic Effect

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Of the 5,981 unruly passenger incidents in 2021, almost 72% of them were sparked by mask-wearing incidents. Air rage was in full force, with passengers deploying aggressive or violent behavior towards airline employees and fellow passengers when told to wear masks. Some also became a risk to those onboard when they got upset by people not wearing their masks properly.

Civil Libertarians Fight Back

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Not all Americans agree with the proposed no-fly legislation. Libertarians argue that the FBI’s no-fly list targets people of color and lacks transparency. They fear the same will happen if the 2023 no-fly list extension passes.

Riddled With False Positives

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Few Americans will argue that suspected terrorists who are thoroughly vetted shouldn’t fly on planes. The issue is that many travelers without terrorist connections have endured intimidating interrogations and mistakenly placed on the no-fly list. All it can take is a name mix-up.

A Tale of Travel Obstacles

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Thirty-year-old Ashraf Maniar was born and raised in California. But after innocently sparking a friendship with a British woman who was later accused of extremism, Maniar discovered he had been placed on the no-fly list for being a suspected terrorist.

The Problems Began

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Maniar described himself as feeling like a criminal. He tried to fly several times before being informed by the Department of Homeland Security that he’d been placed on the no-fly list. FBI agents confronted him at the airport on several occasions. This was before the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) was developed.

Being More Transparent

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Contrary to the past, the U.S. government now tells American citizens and lawful residents if they’re on the no-fly list. The DHS TRIP was established in 2007 in response to criticism about the FBI’s secretive approach to its no-fly list.

A Happy Ending

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After years of a lengthy legal battle, with the help of his lawyers, Maniar received a coveted letter from the Department of Homeland Security clearing him from the no-fly list. They discovered what he had known all along — that he wasn’t a danger to flight crew and passengers.

The Future of the No-Fly List

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Time will tell whether Congress’ unruly no-fly list legislation passes. In the meantime, the 4,290 passengers charged with mask-related incidents in 2021 may be holding their breath.

8 Terrifying Plane Experiences Told by Flight Attendants

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Turbulence isn’t the only thing that makes a flight attendant’s job rough. Read stories from brave flight attendants who candidly open up about the scariest experiences they’ve had on board.

8 Terrifying Plane Experiences Told by Flight Attendants

Southwest Gave Me a $300 Chicago Vacation. Here’s How It Happened

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The stars and pilots aligned during my flight from Malaysia to New York. I couldn’t believe it when I got a free Southwest trip to Chicago.

How I Received a Free $300 Vacation From Southwest

30 Most Dangerous American Cities Revealed

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Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States? Some of the cities that qualify for this title may shock you.

30 Most Dangerous American Cities Revealed

6 Non-American Holidays That Americans Celebrate

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Are you a savvy enough American to know which holidays the U.S. celebrates that originated abroad? The truth might surprise you.

6 Non-American Holidays That Americans Celebrate

12 Nightmare Turbulence Stories That’ll Leave You Speechless

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Do planes fall out of the sky? Passengers recount their worst turbulence stories, and we settle misunderstandings about whether turbulence is as scary as it seems.

12 Nightmare Turbulence Stories That Will Leave You Speechless

This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.

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